Does your day include a glass of milk, slice of cheese or scoop of yogurt? Or how about the occasional ice cream cone? Those nutritious and tasty treats are made possible by the 368 hard-working family dairies who care for the 91,000 milk cows across South Dakota.
During the month of June, we urge South Dakotans to celebrate this growing and vibrant industry, and the benefits it brings to our communities.
“Our dairy farms here in South Dakota produce over 1.8 billion pounds of milk per year,” said Lucas Lentch, South Dakota’s Secretary of Agriculture. “The dairy industry is very important to our state’s rural and urban economies.”
It may surprise you but each dairy cow in South Dakota has an annual economic impact of over $14,000, and the industry touts a total impact of $1.27 billion. The average cow in South Dakota produces 8.2 gallons of milk per day, which totals around 2,380 gallons per year
Dairy supplies Americans with 70% of their calcium needs and contributes only 2% of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Also, their carbon footprint has declined drastically by 60%. Technology continues to make dairymen and women more efficient.
Dairy is value-added agriculture as cattle consume seven million bushels of South Dakota corn along with other forages. One forage that is becoming popular is ethanol’s co-product distillers grain as it has shown to reduce methane output and increase milk production.
Another part of value-added agriculture is the processing of the milk. South Dakota produces more than 232 million pounds of cheese each year and that should expand with the new Bel-Brands plant opening in Brookings soon.